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Claydon teacher hopes Ipswich mental health group inspired by Bryony Gordon’s Mad Girl could be a ‘lifeline’ for sufferers

PUBLISHED: 08:23 26 May 2017 | UPDATED: 08:23 26 May 2017

From left to right: Ipswich Mental Health Mates members Sophie Beech, Sue Bush and Enya Ayden-Bridge. Picture: ENYA AYDEN-BRIDGE

From left to right: Ipswich Mental Health Mates members Sophie Beech, Sue Bush and Enya Ayden-Bridge. Picture: ENYA AYDEN-BRIDGE

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A young Ipswich teacher has launched the first mental health group of its kind in Suffolk - which she believes could be a lifeline for people suffering with anxiety and depression alone.

Enya Ayden-Bridge, who works at Claydon High School, was inspired to set up Mental Health Mates after reading Bryony Gordon’s best selling book Mad Girl.

She is regularly in touch with the Telegraph author, whose book encourages people to celebrate life with mental illness, and to talk about it without being pressured.

Enya, who has had problems with her anxiety since she was 14, decided she wanted to do the same and now she meets with a small group of around ten people every fortnight.

The 24-year-old, from Washbrook, said: “It’s great to see people and just have a general chat. We have a couple of people who are older and say they are lonely, so it’s good to speak to and meet new people who may be experiencing similar issues.

“We don’t necessarily just discuss mental health – sometimes we just talk about how our week has been and how it has made us feel.

“Ipswich mental health mates meets up on Tuesday evenings, twice a month.

“It’s also a place where people with depression, anxiety and OCD can come and talk in a place free of judgement.”

The group meet on Ipswich Waterfront, and in the summer they go for walks while chatting.

In the winter, they pop into bars such as Cult Cafe.

Enya added: “No-one is forced to talk about their mental health issue, it’s about getting people talking and interacting again, building confidence.

“I am a teacher in a local secondary school and have seen first hand teachers with anxiety disorders and children as young as 12 struggling with their mental health.

“I believe this group could be a lifeline to many people in Suffolk, and I have already had people enquiring in Suffolk so depressed that they don’t leave the house.

“Bryony (Gordon), who runs Mental Health Mates in London, has hundreds of people who attend her groups and which has changed their lives.”

For more information or to join Ipswich Mental Health Mates, get in touch with Enya at ipswichmentalhealthmates@gmail.com.

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